By Mark Jurgena
Three Collinsville High athletes have qualified for the IHSA Class 3A boys state track & field meet to be held Saturday at Eastern Illinois University in Charleston.
Chris Garcia-Cloud won the sectional title in the discus at the Bloomington Sectional on June 10th, while Theo Paxton was second in the 800 meters.
Tyrez Rogers placed third in the high jump. Only the top two in each event automatically go to state, but he hit the qualifying standard for the state meet to earn his spot to Charleston.
“It feels really good especially since all three guys were seniors,” said coach Darryl Frerker. “They’ve been working hard for this the last couple of years. Unfortunately with COVID last year…maybe it gave them a little more fuel for the fire. I’m very pleased with getting those three boys in.”
Garcia-Cloud fired the discus 49.40 meters (162’ 1”) to claim the sectional crown. He far outdistanced Normal (Community) Alex Sohn’s 153’ 3”.
“That was an awesome throw by Chris,” said Frerker. “He actually threw a bomb in warmups. I was close at the time, I saw the throw. The throws coach, Chad Burgess, said that he saw the eyes from the other spectators just go, ’wow!’”
His winning throw was the #9 all-time throw in Kahok track & field history.
Josh Chambers threw a personal best with a throw of 40.75 meters (133’ 8.75”). That throw gave him an 8th place finish in the 22-person field.
Garcia-Cloud finished sixth in the shot put with a heave of 13.82 meters (45’ 4”).
In the 800 meters, Paxton set another personal record with a time of 1:57.85, but finished just behind Byron Jones of Belleville East. Jones recorded a 1:57.29 to win the crown.
“He put it together at the right time,” said Frerker about Paxton. “It was the best strategy race that I have seen him run in the 800 this season. Personal records are always hard to come by and he put it together at the right time to get that 2nd place which he needed.”
In fact, Jones was the only one to make the state qualifying time. Paxton’s time was .10 off the mark, but since the top two places in the sectional qualify regardless of their time, he advanced to EIU.
Paxton had to beat Samson Dessalines of Chatham (Glenwood) to the line. Dessalines finished third with a 1:58.15.
“Theo’s always prided himself on having a kick,” said Frerker. “The kick wasn’t the most important part of the race. It was setting himself up for having that kick. That’s exactly what he did in this race.
“They didn’t go out quite as fast as I was anticipating. But it was very hot. He came through at about 59 (seconds) which means he did run a negative split. There were points in the race where I thought he was getting boxed in a little bit…he was patient…I was very excited for him to get that 2nd place finish. He’s been talking about state for four years and he got himself there. That’s awesome!”
The third Kahok to qualify was Tyrez Rogers. Rogers was so busy running back and forth across the football field at Bloomington High trying to compete in both the high jump and the long jump that he didn’t even realize he had successfully cleared the state standard for the high jump.
“It was 90-plus degrees, he’s starting to sweat,” began Frerker. “I was like, ‘dude let’s just scratch the long jump and just concentrate on the high.’ He says, ‘I think I can qualify in both!’ So he goes back to the high jump and my assistant coach Brendan Peterson…tells me later he didn’t even tell him it was (state) qualifying height. He goes up there and clears it on his first attempt! That was awesome, it was one of the highlights of the day.”
Rogers cleared 1.90 meters (6’ 2.75”). He tied with Chris Taylor of Normal (Community) but placed third due to less attempts to clear the height.
A pair of Normal (Community) jumpers, Jonovan Findley and Charlie Nolan, went 1-2 in the competition both clearing 1.95 meters (6’ 4.75”).
Kahok freshman KJ Thorps-Watt finished in sixth place in the high jump. He cleared 1.85 meters (6’ 0.75).
In the long jump, Rogers placed fifth with a best of 6.25 meters (20’ 5”).
Jamari Myer of Normal (Community) won with a jump of 6.84 meters (22’ 5.25”).
In the pole vault, Kahoks Jacob Dyer and Jackson Lee finished in 4th and 5th place respectively.
Dyer went 4.02 meters (13’ 2.25”) while Lee cleared 3.86 meters (12’ 8”).
Lee set a personal record at the event and that vault was ninth on the Kahok top ten list.
The sectional champion, Liam McGill, cleared 5.05 meters (16’ 6.75”).
Thorps-Watt went 12.27 meters in the triple jump. (40’ 3”). That mark earned him a 6th place finish.
Leslie Fisher of Normal (Community) won with a leap of 14.49 meters (47’ 6.5”).
Kahok sophomore Jerry Richardson finished in 8th place in the 200 meters with a time of :23.39.
Brandon Battle of Edwardsville ran a :21.70 to take the title.
Finally, Gavin Gerstenecker and Alex Nova-Nova of CHS each set personal records in the 400 meters. Gerstenecker came in at :56.96 while Nova-Nova ran a :57.21.
Everyone in the 400 meter field finished way behind Edwardsville’s Battle. The state’s #1 sprinter ran a personal best of :46.60. None of the other 21 entrants finished below :51.
Normal (West) edged Edwardsville 94-93 for the team title. Collinsville finished in 7th place one point behind O’Fallon’s 37 points.